“ Could you elaborate on exactly what a typical workday at the NHS is like for you and your co-workers? ”

Adri F. asked a question in topic Life at the Company
to Lucy B. Graduate Management Trainee, NHS Institute For Innovation And Improvement

Hi Lucy,
I am really interested in and impressed by your career path! I was wondering if you could elaborate on exactly what a typical workday at the NHS is like for you and your co-workers. You emphasized the large variance in your day to day workload, but what are the typical projects you tackle and how would you describe the work dynamic there?
Graduate Management Trainee, NHS Institute For Innovation And Improvement

Hi Adri,

That's a good question and can vary greatly depending on if you're working strategically or operationally. My first placement was operational, and in that role I had line management responsibilities of admin staff alongside my 'business management' responsibilities. Working operationally can often mean that you're dealing with issues on the shop floor as and when they arise, which can be anything from finding consultant cover for clinic lists so that they are not cancelled, to stepping in and helping with pottering duties when your trust is in the middle of a bed crisis! A lot of my projects whilst working operationally were around capacity and demand, cost improvement, and writing business cases to further develop the unit I was working on. I'm now working strategically and am looking at the long term plans that need to be put in place for my trust to move to a new hospital site. This includes looking at new technologies to invest in, and the logistics around moving services across. It's a very different pace from working operationally, as you're planning things which are going to happen in the future, rather than in the here and now, and most of the people I've spoken to on the scheme very quickly identify if they want to work operationally or strategically in the future, so it's yet another good aspect of being on the scheme as it helps you identify what area you want to work in.
Everyone's placements are different, so it's very difficult to give you a standardised day in the life of, but if you have any other questions, just let me know!


Policy Management Graduate Trainee 2017 Intake, NHS

As Lucy mentioned, there is a big difference between operational and strategic placements.

I am on the policy and strategy stream so my first 6 month placement and my last 10 month placement are both strategic roles in NHS England, while my second 6 month placement is a more operational one in an NHS Trust.

I only started in my placement 4 weeks ago, but the atmosphere in my team in NHS England is very friendly and supportive. My project is concerned with developing an evaluative model to measure and quantify financial benefits of improving advance care planning at End of Life. It's currently at an initial stage so my day-to-day job involves scoping the project with my manager and other key stakeholders. For example today:

- I came in at 9:30am (we have flexible working hours so that's fine as long as I work for 7.5hours)
- At 10am I attending our weekly 1 hour team meetings, called "project planning and risk register updates". For each project in the team the project lead outlines how they're doing in relation to their targets, and highlights any issues or problems they might encounter in the near or far future.
- I caught up with emails, and prepared the agenda for the meeting I was chairing in the afternoon (a meeting to scope my project)
- I asked a colleague how to use the conference calling technology for the meeting, not having done that before
- I spent some time booking a train for a meeting in London next week (I am based in Leeds but the other main office in NHS England is in London)
- I also had lunch with 3 other trainees today, for half an hour

I hope that gives you an idea. Each day is a bit different for me as sometimes I attend a few meetings (either ones I am involved with or ones where I can learn something about a different team/project). Other days I am more focused on doing background reading for my project.

All the best, Laura

Graduate Management Trainee, NHS Leadership Academy

Hi Adri,

I agree with Lucy- everyones experiences on the scheme are different, and I believe that's why it creates such a rich and exciting learning environment! I'm a first-year graduate management trainee on the General Management stream (currently based in community healthcare)- I can tell you a bit about what I do on a daily basis, and hopefully this will help to answer your question.

My current job title is 'Operational Lead', and I work with a team of nurses, whom provide care to adults (18+) within the community.

On a typical day, I will arrive at work in the morning, and check our position for the day- this involves checking how many nurses we have on-shift, and how many patient visits we have scheduled. I might also spend some time dealing with any issues that could potentially disrupt operations, such as visits handed over from the nightshift and unplanned sickness. I then put together a daily report on our current position, which is distributed to the team.

Throughout the day, I'm involved in meetings with team members, such as development meetings and other HR-related meetings, and often attend meetings with my colleagues in operations and general leadership.

I might also spend some time working on individual or group projects, which concern service development. For example, exploring methods of improving current processes or staff satisfaction. This often includes collaborative working with other NHS services, and those external to the NHS.

In the afternoon, the admin team schedules visits for the following day. I then put together a report which details our position for the next day. Based on this report, I will make any necessary changes, such as alterations to staffing levels (e.g. offering overtime).

In this sense, my role provides a good balance between dealing with immediate, time-sensitive operational challenges, and forward-thinking in terms of the future of the service. For me, everyday is different and this keeps me interested and engaged- I am loving my time on the scheme so far!

I hope this helps answer your question, please let me know if you have any more questions.


Whatever your future leadership ambitions are, the NHS offers a fantastic start with a variety of challenging placements in an organisation that is wholeheartedly determined to provide equal opportunities to all employees. Selection for the scheme is based solely on aptitude and ability to ensure we have the best leaders for the NHS.

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